First Do No Harm




Digestive Enzymes


Benefits of Probiotics

How to Maintain Your Probiotics

Things That Destroy Your Probiotics







 The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell: An Accidental Soldier's Account of the War in Iraq
The Last True Story I'll Ever Tell: An Accidental Soldier's Account of the War in Iraq































































































































Digestion Part II
Digestive Aids

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The purpose of digestion is to pull nutrition from what you take in, and serve it up to your cells. This seems quite straightforward, however,

  • what you take in must have the nutrients your cells need

  • your digestive system must be able to extract them

  • and your system must be able to remove all the waste material.

If you have heartburn, something is wrong. If your doctor recommends you take some kind of antacid, two things will happen:

  • you will begin a life of pill popping (for it only gets worse if you start taking antacids)

  • but it will not be a very long life.

Antacid users are the first to find out that with usage, you heartburn only gets worse. Your body begins to expect the antacid and is gearing up to try to digest your food.

Around age 35 we begin to produce less acid and fewer digestive enzymes. I don’t know why this is, it just is. Whether this is something that happens to all people on all diets, I do not know. But it seems to be true for us creatures in this society.

The first thing you want to do when you have heartburn, or this newly named disease (very fashionable lately) GERD  (Gastroesophageal reflux disease), is take a digestive aid, and not a digestive enemy (such as an antacid).

My favorite (the best of the cheapest) digestive enzymes in the past have been NOW Foods Super Enzymes (they now come in capsules). Take one before meals, and see what happens. In addition to this, I like to chew on a few (4 or 5) papaya enzymes after a meal. Interestingly enough, if you have any intestinal parasites, and 85% of Americans have some kind of parasite, papaya enzymes will help to digest them. One reason we have parasites is that our digestive systems are so weak (from antacids) that they flourish in our gut.

Keep in mind that NOW’s Super Enzymes have additional betaine hydrochloride (hydrochloric acid, the stuff our bodies are supposed to make). Some of you will require additional stomach acid, and betaine hydrochloride is available at most health food stores.

I've recently found a product called AbsorbMax from It is an amazing product containing enzymes that handle gluten. I've never found anything like this. And though you might not be gluten intolerant, statistically, you might still have problems with gluten. If you have digestive problems, I'd suggest trying this product and see what happens.

For many of you, the simple addition of digestive enzymes (and betaine hydrochloride) to your life will work wonders. You’ll be eating your favorite foods again and your body will get the nutrition it needs.

However, do not expect to work wonders on your digestive system if you OVER fill your gut with manmade, highly processed foods and take a few digestive aids. Health is not luck, it’s work and dedication.

Causes of Heartburn or GERD.

1. weakened digestive system; body doesn’t create enough enzymes and/or stomach acid and a lack of probiotics.

2. over eating

3. drinking too much with a meal

4. food allergies

5. poor food combining

6. poor diet; high in processed carbs, excess sugars

7. prescription drugs (that contribute to the problem)

8. mechanical problems such as a hiatal hernia

9. lacking probiotics

10. and finally: eating while stressed!

If you have symptoms of heartburn or GERD, the first thing you want to do is add digestive enzymes. Before a meal, take one of the NOW Foods Super Enzymes. We've also found that Papaya Enzymes can help, and these are very inexpensive and can be found anywhere.

For many of you, this will be all you need.

We want you to keep in mind that we have a lot of personal experience with the products we’re telling you about. We know that the therapies laid out here work, and they work well. So, keep reading.

IF this addition still doesn’t work, you could have either an ulcer or an acid sensitive stomach. You will need digestive enzymes without the added acid, betaine hydrochloride.

If enzymes without the acid work for you, but you get burning with extra acid, you might have an ulcer (or you are acid sensitive, which is nearly the same thing in that you will treat it the same). For this condition you will want to add some chlorophyll to your diet and some papaya enzymes. You might want to drink some Simply Natural Products Aloe after your meal. Aloe is very healing, and has been known to help relieve many digestive disorders as well as ulcers.

One more thing we will mention here and delve into in depth later is a supplement nearly all of us need: Probiotics. We all know what antibiotics are, but probiotics are the good bacteria in our gut that boost our immune system, help us to digest, keep our stool soft, protect us from diarrhea and chronic inflammation, and form the first line of defense against opportunistic organisms like yeast/fungus.

We have reviewed many probiotics in the past, and funny how the best companies with the best products seem to disappear. So now I just order from Swanson online. One of my favorites is: Ultimate Probiotic Formula. It's inexpensive and full of a variety.

One of the best probiotics on the market, one used also for candida (yeast) is an amazing product from right here in Minnesota. As you know, the problem with probiotics is getting them past the digestive tract and into the colon. Digestion kills a lot of probiotics. This product, Probicell, is not a probiotic in the bottle, but rather a spore. The spores are indestructible and they make their way to your colon where they stay and turn into your probiotics. It's an amazing product and we do have an affiliate program with them, so you do support us when you shop at their site. 

Now, for many of you, again, this might be all you need. However, if you still have reflux, we’re going to have to go a bit further.

First of all, do not eat within three hours of sleeping. Lying down can bring it up. This is a simple fact.

Next, you’ll want to increase your enzymes (the ones without acid if you did not pass the acid test above). If you’ve been using one, try two or three. The best we've found is AbsorbMax™ from the BioTrust people, but just be aware they will try to sell you more and more and more each day so UNSUBSCRIBE when they send you their first sales pitch. Don't you just love companies that tell you about their very short video that takes the rest of the week to finish watching?

If you haven’t done the elimination diet we talked bout in the first essay on digestion, you really should. A food allergy could be the cause.

And one final thing you can do is eat until your stomach is only three quarters full. Take in smaller meals and don't eat before bed time. Eat around 4 or 5 and go for a walk.

If this doesn’t work, like more than 50% of the population over age 50, you probably have a hiatal hernia.

Hiatal Hernia

This occurs when the diaphragm muscle weakens and a portion of the stomach seeps through the diaphragm into the chest cavity.

Now, I am not a very good artist, but perhaps this little animation will help you picture what’s happening. It happens over a period of time. Yes, I know, the stomach has an exit at the bottom left into the duodenum, but like I said, I’m not a very good artist.

Now you can go to this site for orthodox medicine’s methods of diagnosing if you have a hiatal hernia:

Or you can go to a chiropractor or kinesiologist who knows how to diagnose and repair this problem.

Luckily, for our readers, I received from a Dr Donaldson DC, a reader, the complete diagnostic and healing technique for hiatal hernias to pass on to you.

First off, keep in mind that we neither recommend nor promote self-diagnosis and/or self treatment, but you have a right to know anything you want to know.

So, have the "patient" lie on his/her back. Have the patient hold her/his breath as long as s/he can and time this with a stopwatch or second hand. Place the heel of your hand just below the sternum (onto the solar plexus) just slightly left of center with the butt of your hand just barely touching the base of the ribs. If you can "almost" feel the rib cage/sternum, you have the position correctly. With the patient breathing normally, press downward and toward the patient’s feet on the patient’s exhalation. You will use a steady pressure and hold as the patient breathes in and then you will press again along with the exhalation, downward and inward. On the next exhalation, you will perform your last press toward the patient’s feet with steady pressure. A chiropractor will, upon the end of the patient’s exhalation, give a slight, quick thrust.

You will use the fleshy part of your hand for this pressure, not the butt of your hand. Normally once is enough, but sometimes a chiropractor will do this two, three, or four times. When completed, have the patient hold her/his breath and time it. If the breath holding is 50% longer (e.g., one minute prior to therapy, and one and a half minutes after), then you can assume the person has a hiatal hernia. Why? The portion of the stomach that has leaked into the chest cavity takes up space that the lungs could us if the stomach wasn’t in the way. 

If you are squeamish and cannot do this or the person with the problem has brittle bones, you will want to visit a chiropractor or kinesiologist.

This technique is both the diagnosis and the treatment. In most cases, the problem is fixed immediately, though some will have to get this treatment periodically over the rest of their life. It simply depends on the person. But you will know immediately when you get relief.

Probiotics (formerly the Sedona Labs Product Review)

In Dr Weston Price’s research of the various primitive cultures, he found a wide variety of diets. Eskimos naturally did not eat the same things as Polynesians who did not eat the same things as Africans and so on. However, they all had one thing in common: they all had a form of fermented food.

Many fermented foods contain good bacteria that we now refer to as “probiotics.”

The term “good bacteria” sounds like an oxymoron. Most of us think of bacteria as things that cause illness. However, probiotics are things that prevent illnesses and actually fight the bad bacteria that cause infections and inflammations. Recent studies show that probiotics actually help fight the common cold.

Dr Elias Metchnikoff took home the Nobel Prize for Medicine when he discovered phagocytes and a variety of other components to our immune systems. He noted a direct link between longevity, immune function, and maintaining healthy intestinal flora. Since then, modern medicine, modern science, and modern marketing have done everything in their power to destroy our intestinal flora.

There are nearly 400 varieties of probiotics in our gut, weighing up to four pounds. Some are resident while others are transient, passing through our bodies, performing their duties and then being excreted.

While interviewing Dave Durenburger, a former senator for our State of Minnesota, I was asked what the wellness community thought of irradiating our food; they were shocked to find out that “we” were against it. When asked why, I quickly responded, “Radiation kills good bacteria along with bad bacteria.” Not surprising, he and his advisors had never heard of good bacteria.

Pesticides also can kill off the good bacteria, so the only way you’ll get some varieties of probiotics is to eat fresh, rinsed (not scrubbed) raw, organic veggies.

When we discuss the resident bacteria in our bodies, balance is the key word. Our good bacteria must live in balance with the bad. If we kill off the good bacteria, the bad begins to grow and spread. If we increase our good bacteria, it will rein in the bad. Addistionally, since this article was first written, it's been established that we each live in a "biome" of sorts, one in which we (our bodies, our cells) are just a tenth of the collection of "critters" composing this biome. Take a look at this: They're Everywhere.

As a journalist, I’m almost embarrassed to pass this next tidbit off to you, because I learned it way back in the early nineties when I was researching cancer. Since then I’ve lost my notes, but the story, being so powerfully etched in my mind, lacks all the usual references of who, what, where, etc. So, you’ll just have to believe me (since I cannot reference it) and accept my veracity.

There was a man (you see? I’ve even forgotten this man’s name) who was a virologist. He was hired by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) to study bacteria. He was quick to remind them that he was a virologist, but to the government, all things small must be related, somehow.

His first investigation was bifidus (Bifidobacterium bifidum, Bifidobacterium lactis, Bifidobacterium longum) and its influence on e-coli.

Bifidus is passed to babies in mother’s milk. Mother’s milk is a key ingredient to a baby’s immune system. In children, bifidus is the primary probiotic in their system up to about the age of seven; then acidophilus becomes the dominant probiotic.

This researcher discovered something very important. He discovered that if a baby is taken off mother’s milk and put on cow’s milk, its bifidus count begins to drop, slowly at first, and then quickly. As the bifidus count drops the e-coli count increases. By the time the colony of bifidus is depleted, the number of e-coli has gone from 10 to the 7th power to 10 to the 14th power. This is NOT double. This is a doubling seven times.

He also found that at that amount (10 to the 14th), that the e-coli produced an “endotoxin” that stopped the heart and lungs for a period of time.

Do you see what’s going on here? It had been known that Sudden Death Syndrome was more prevalent in bottle fed babies than in mother’s milk fed babies, but now we’d found a probable cause.

He wrote up his findings and passed them to his higher ups. He never heard back from them. He arranged a meeting and it was then that he learned that his research was not going to be published. In effect, they told him, “Sure, like the USDA is going to go out and tell mothers not to feed their kids cow’s milk.”

He quit. He went on the road to get the news out. He gave lectures at any venue that would have him. This is how I finally heard the story. And now I’ve passed it on to you.

It is interesting to note that a breastfeeding mother who supplements with acidophilus will feed her baby breast milk chock full of bifidus. In fact, a study recently published in Lancet [03;361(9372):1869-71] had breastfeeding mothers take a daily dose of lactobacillus acidophilus for the first six months. Their babies were then followed for four years. Apparently this short regimen was shown to protect the children from eczema for the first two years of their lives. We also know that mothers taking bifidus will pass that on to their babies too, without having to convert anything.

An imbalance in the intestinal flora of babies seems to be the cause of their eczema, but even more important, building good intestinal flora early is absolutely critical to their developing immune systems. Eventually, an imbalance in the intestinal flora will cause their immune systems to react to practically everything. This is the beginning of allergies.

Asthma and allergies in our children are growing at unprecedented rates. A study out of Henry Ford Health Systems showed that children given antibiotics in their first six months increased their chances of developing allergies (and asthma) by age seven. From the study: "Dr. Johnson theorizes that use of antibiotics may affect the gastrointestinal tract and alter the development of a child's immune system." []

Antibiotics will upset the balance of your intestinal flora and it is imperative to replace the probiotics as soon as you start taking antibiotics and for a few weeks after you’ve gone off the drugs.

In Epidemiological Review, we found a study that showed that children given antibiotics during their first six months were 2.6 times more likely to come down with asthma. If given a full spectrum antibiotic, they were 8.9 times more likely to develop asthma. Interestingly enough, in families without pets, kids were still 11.6 times more likely to develop asthma. [Ep Rev 02:24(2):154-75]

Advertisements that tell you to fear bugs and chlorinate this and bleach that and spray this effluvium all over everything our babies touch is junk science. Our kids need to get a little dirt in their lives. A child’s immune system has to be challenged. JAMA even reported that children exposed to two or more pets during the first year of their lives have fewer allergies and allergic asthma than children raised without pets. [JAMA 02:288(8):963-72]

Our children need to build a healthy immune system and here is where probiotics come in.

If you go to, you will see that they tested many probiotic products (you will have to become a paid member to see the entire study). iFlora came out on top with 16 strains, 4 times greater than the runner up, and 15 billion cells per capsule. However, iFlora is called something entirely different because they have two companies, one that sells online and the other that sells in retail outlets. In the latest Consumer Labs study, iFlora failed because the capsules they tested did not contain the amount of live bacteria listed on the bottle. However, iFlora publishes on their bottle the amount that was in it at production and like most probiotics, they start to die off right after bottling. Even though Sedona Labs’ advanced micro-encapsulation process keeps the cultures alive at room temperature, some start to die off. They really made a marketing error by publishing that number. Any assay of their products, to find the numbers they published, would have to be conducted the day the product was bottled.

Editor's Note: Please take note that this was written in 2005 and Consumer Labs has tested many, many more probiotics since then, and you have a host of products to choose from.

Let’s take a look at the wide variety of benefits from probiotics.


  • Relieve chronic indigestion. When you’ve tried everything and nothing has worked, it could be your probiotics. Probiotics will make your digestion more efficient, enhance lactose digestion, break down undigested foods, including those tough carbohydrates. In the end, probiotics relieve cramping and bloating.

  • Relieve IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), inflammatory bowel, colitis, Crohn’s Disease, and gastroenteritis.

  • Reduce flatulence. If you have a bad gas problem, try probiotics first.

  • Maintain the proper colon pH. We’ve talked about pH a lot. The pH of the body should be slightly alkaline. However, your colon should be acidic. Probiotics are the key to proper colon pH.

  • Relieve constipation. Probiotics decrease the transit time of waste through your bowel.

  • Relieve diarrhea. Two forms of diarrhea are relieved by probiotics: traveler’s diarrhea and antibiotic-associated diarrhea.

  • Control the growth of harmful yeast and mold. Probiotics are well known for fighting intestinal yeast and mold. The best was mentioned above: Probicel. Vaginal yeast infections and other infections associated with Candida are targeted by probiotics. Many naturopaths tell women with vaginal yeast infections to dip a tampon in yogurt and insert it for an hour or two. Prevention is the key here, and a study published in the International Journal of Gynecology and Obstetrics attributed the increase in recurring vaginal candidiasis worldwide to a lack of sufficient Lactobacilli in many women, as well as the growing problem of antibiotic resistance. Lactobacilli constitute (according to the study) “the vagina's primary defense mechanism against Candida.”

  • Absorb vitamins and nutrients more efficiently.

  • Create B Vitamins and omega-3 essential fatty acids. Yes, this is the amazing thing about probiotics. They excrete things our bodies need. Additionally, they help convert the Alpha-linolenic Acid in flax oil to DHA  (docosahexaenoic acid) and EPA (eiocosapentaenoic acid). Without probiotics, you have to get DHA and EPA from marine sources. (Note: the liver, if healthy and given the proper nutrients, can also create DHA.)

  • Boost immune function. This occurs in the following two steps:

    • Neutralize carcinogens, metabolites (harmful byproducts of digestion) and waste materials. The removal of waste products adds to your overall energy levels.

    • Help form antibodies.

  • Reduce and possibly eliminate food allergies. "Whenever a food allergy is felt to be behind a medical problem, probiotics will prove beneficial." Dr Robert C Atkins.

  • Relieve urinary tract infections. Acidophilus is one of the dominant healthy bacterial colonies in the urinary tract (kidneys and bladder). E-coli, though usually thought to inhabit only the colon, actually makes its way into the urinary tract too.

  • Relieve bad breath; reduce body odor. Lets face it, some bad breath problems don’t just start in the mouth, but come up from the digestive system. 

  • Protect against leaky gut syndrome. This in a subject we’ll have to cover in another article, but maintaining proper flora in your gut will help prevent this terrible condition.

  • Relieve inflammation. Inflammation has become the disease of this new century (and we’ll cover it in an article soon). Studies published in Gut; 2004, Vol. 53, 108-17 show that bowel surgery patients who took probiotics had an 85% chance of remaining pouchitis free (inflammation of the pouch that usually follows bowel surgeries) while those taking the placebo had only a 6% chance of avoiding it. Additionally, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) a branch of the National Institute of Health, published a study that showed that DNA from “dead” probiotics helped reduce inflammation in mice. []

  • Relieve allergies and eczema. The above study also went on to point this out. It’s always been suspected that skin problems begin in the gut. This is just one more piece to the puzzle that’s been discovered.

  • Prevent, palliate, and reduce the effects of the common cold. This one is amazing. I discovered a paper on line (in PDF format) published by the Institute for Physiology and Biochemistry of Nutrition from Kiel, Germany that told of a study they had begun. I found the results at the Health Sciences Institute web site. The results showed that the group taking the probiotics had 13% fewer respiratory infections, and of those who got the infection, the probiotic group had a 19% reduction in symptoms over the placebo group. Influenza symptoms were reduced by 25% and the number of days of fever was reduced by 50%. Overall immune response was “significantly higher” in the probiotic group, “especially during the first 14 days of supplementation.”

There is no secret to maintaining proper flora in your system. Eating a good yogurt or kefir or homemade sauerkraut a good start, along with organic vegetables and a good flax oil (my favorite is Omegasentials). Additionally, you will want to eat lignan precursors found in such foods as flax seed (mentioned already), the cruciferous vegetables (cauliflower, broccoli, Chinese cabbage, boc choi), spinach, carrots, millet and buckwheat). Lignan precursors, when metabolized by our probiotics, create chemicals that protect us from cancers, strokes, heart disease, and osteoporosis.  Check out this paper from the Linus Pauling Institute: Lignans.

You might also wish to supplement with FOS (Fructooligosaccharide),  a primitive sugar that your body cannot digest, but your probiotics love.

Update 2017:

We have since writing this piece, written two articles that are of interest at this point. Foods that feed your probiotics are called "prebiotics." One of them is also called, "Resistant Starch," and the other you will just love: Wine & Chocolate.

We never really kill off all of our probiotics, but we can quickly and easily disrupt their fragile balance. Here are the things that can put our good bacteria/bad bacteria ratio out of whack:

1. Stress

2. Excessive Sugar consumption

3. Excessive Yeast consumption

4. Chlorinated water

5. Processed foods

6. Excessive Alcohol consumption

7. Colas and carbonated beverages

8. Anti-inflammatory drugs and pain killers (both prescription and OTC)

9. Antibiotics.

10. Traveling outside the country two, three or more times a year.

11. Tobacco smoke.

12. Estrogen.


From the Health Sciences Institute, we received information we really have to pass on to you.

First off, we cannot overemphasize that the use of antacids is NOT recommended. You need stomach acid to digest your food. The drug companies are now scaring everyone into buying their poisons by telling you that you're going to get esophageal cancer if you don't stop your stomach from producing acid.

The truth is, your chances of cancer, heart disease, and stroke increase when your body doesn't get the nutrition it needs.

Next, the Journal of the American Medical Association published a study showing that people taking Nexium, Prilosec, Prevacid, Protonix, Aciphex, Pepcid, Zantac, Tagamet, Rotane, or Axid had a FOUR times greater risk of pneumonia. Wow. [Risk of Community-Acquired Pneumonia and Use of Gastric Acid-Suppressive Drugs" Journal of the American Medical Association, Vol. 292, No. 16, 10/27/04]

So, from HSI we have another nice and easy remedy for GERD, that burning sensation in your esophagus from acid reflux. Dr Allan Spreen suggests opening up one or two or three capsules of acidophilus powder, mixing it with your saliva, and swallowing it down. It is something your body needs, and it heals the esophagus. My favorite brand, that we've talked about, from Sedona Labs is NOT recommended here. Their acidophilus product has a coating that helps the bacteria pass through to the small intestines where they are needed. The coating will not dissolve in your saliva. So you need to find a good refrigerated brand, and have it handy. You will NOT be able to take it along to with you on trips, as heat kills the live bacteria.

And yes, you can have a few sips of water. They warn us though, that it could be possible to be sensitive to high doses of acidophilus, though it is extremely rare. Just cut back a bit, and try to see how much you can take, should you have a reaction to it.

Next, HSI told us of a product from England that is worth a try for those of you who suffer from heart burn or GERD. It's called Potters Acidosis and it improves the environment so that your GE sphincter can tighten up a bit.

It consists of mainly of three natural ingredients:

  • Meadowsweet, a flower, which has been used for centuries as an astringent, antacid, and anti-inflammatory.

  • Medicinal vegetable charcoal, which absorbs toxic matter in the stomach and neutralizes excess acid (note the word "excess").

  • Rhubarb, which is an ancient digestive aid.

Every time we find Potters Acidosis, we post a link and then the site no longer sells it. Apparently the only way to get Potters Acidosis is to call the company in England: 011-44-1942-405100.

Further Reading:

Resistant Starch ─ a natural way to improve digestion and deliver pre-biotics that feed your probiotics.

Allergies and Infectious Disease (more info on food allergies)

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